As I mentioned before, when you specialize in writing about Christmas on TV, you also research and write about music. Christmas TV episodes, specials and movies are loaded with music and carols. As a pop culture junkie, I love picking up soundtracks to holiday programs and collecting vintage record albums. Along with albums, I also have a collection of Christmas music CDs. I thought it might be interesting to share some of these CDs and talk about them. Just to be clear--my collection focuses on Christmas records with a television or film tie-in.
If you're just joining the conversation here, you may want to check out links to these two previous essays:
Christmas Records (Detroit trip)
Christmas Records--Part 1
I have 1971's A Partridge Family Christmas Card on vinyl too but I got it used and the pull-out card was always missing. I think I've had this CD for 20+ years. My favorite song on the album is the only original tune on the album "My Christmas Card to You." Fans of The Partridge Family TV series know that the songs "Winter Wonderland" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in the 1971 Christmas episode "Don't Bring Your Guns to Town, Santa" can also be found on this release. Check out my discussion of that 1971 Christmas episode again HERE.
I also have this CD version of the 1970 vinyl release of Merry Christmas with The Brady Bunch. All the tracks are the same despite the slight album title change. The album features twelve traditional Christmas songs--no original compositions just for the Bradys. A missed opportunity: the recording of "O Come All Ye Faithful" for the album features Jan's voice (Eve Plumb) and while it's a nice voice, TV fans may feel more connected to either mother Carol (Florence Henderson) singing the tune--as she did in the 1969 Christmas episode, or even Cindy Brady (Susan Olsen) taking the lead since she's featured so prominently in the only Christmas episode of the series. Oh, what could have been! Check out my discussion of the 1969 Christmas episode of The Brady Bunch again HERE.
Speaking of family TV series, this CD is the second Christmas music release connected to The Waltons. It should not to be confused with 1974's The Waltons' Christmas Album. That album--which I also have--is a collection of spoken-word stories by Earl Hamner Jr. and Christmas carols sung by a group called The Holiday Singers--not the original cast of the series. (There's even a yuletide story told by Will Geer who played Grandpa--it's wonderful!) However, the 1999 CD A Walton's Christmas: Together Again features songs performed by members of the original cast! It was produced by Jon Walmsley--the actor who played Jason Walton, who is now a professional musician. The songs include traditional yuletide favorites, a couple originals written by Walmsley himself, and spoken-word segments too. Need to hear Richard Thomas (John-Boy Walton) recite the poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas?" It's here. I believe this was originally released on CD.
|Most TV western fans love Bonanza.|
Ever wanted to spend Christmas with the Cartwright family? I did--that's why I picked up this CD re-release of the 1960s album. It's Ben Cartwright (Lorne Greene), Hoss (Dan Blocker), and Little Joe (Michael Landon) singing holiday favorites while decorating the tree and celebrating with friends. There's even one song "The New Born King" sung by Adam (Pernell Roberts) although they explain he's not at the party--he's out of town spending Christmas with relatives! I think my favorite tracks are "Santa Got Lost in Texas" sung by Little Joe, and "Merry Christmas Neighbor" sung by the entire cast. If you're not a fan of the original series, you probably won't get it. That's okay. Give it a listen, see what you think.
|Touched By An Angel: The Christmas Album (1999)|
I just picked up this CD in a used record store this past holiday season. The 1999 release features 13 tracks of holiday songs but none are from the Christmas episodes of the TV series, to my knowledge. For example, the CD includes "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"performed by Randy Travis, however I don't believe he sings this song in the several Christmas episodes in which he appears. (For those keeping track: Travis does sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "Silent Night.") But the songs here are pleasant enough, and performed by world-famous recording artists, including Charlotte Church, Amy Grant, Kenny Lattimore, Donna Summer, Jaci Velasquez, and more. Fans of the TV series will be pleased with the first track which is "If I Can Dream" performed by Della Reese, and the last track which is "An Irish Blessing" featuring Roma Downey. This too was originally released on CD.
This CD has been easy to find for quite some time. I've even seen it for sale during the holidays at Office Max!? I know. Who doesn't have a copy of this recording? But I still meet people who don't realize it is the soundtrack to the 1979 Christmas TV special John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Even more shocking is that the CD doesn't include all the tracks from the original vinyl release. Ugh!
If you're an obsessed fan of the TV special like I am, then you know that the original soundtrack release doesn't include all the music from the special either. Four songs are missing. Missing are the songs "Pleasure of your Company" and "Camaraderie"--both were originally composed for the 1974 hit London stage musical The Good Companions, music and lyrics by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer. Miss Piggy's song "I Will Wait for You" was originally created for the 1964 French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. And the instrumental "March of the Toys" in the toy soldier performance with Denver, was first heard in the Victor Herbert operetta Babes in Toyland. Despite being incomplete, the CD is wonderful to listen to each year during the holidays.
|Yules of Yore: TV Land Tunes from Christmas Past (1995)|
This CD was released as one in the series of Nick at Nite Records collections during the 1990s. This Christmas music collection is a set of fourteen holiday tracks recorded by TV stars and personalities, including Jimmy Dean, Mike Douglas, John Davidson, Arthur Godfrey, Jim Nabors, Neil Diamond, Richard Clayderman, Slim Whitman, and more. I've never been too impressed with this particular collection of Christmas music but I love the cover art's three-tiered snowman made from TV sets. I believe this was only released on CD.
Do you have any Christmas music CDs connected to film or television? What's in your collection? Feel free to share your comments below.
Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com